A few months ago I was doing laundry when I had what I thought was a brilliant idea. I was hanging up a load of blacks and I looked at all those black clothes and thought...hmmmmm. I wonder how long I could go wearing a different black shirt every day. I decided I’d try it in September, and then in my head I was writing blog posts about black clothes and sharing photos of myself in said black clothes, also on my blog.
But when it came right down to it, I couldn’t do it.
Not the black clothes thing. I’m nine days into my black shirts and still have some left. (On days I haven’t worked or left the house except to drive the carpool, I’ve just worn whatever, since I’ve learned I don’t have a lot of hanging-out-at-home black clothes.) But the picture thing.
Partly this is because my skills at taking an arms’ length photo are dismal. Partly it’s because there’s just not a good place in my house to take self portraits in the mirror. Partly it’s because the self-portraits aren’t matching up with the photographs in my head, so then for a couple of days I turned the camera over to my kids. But that was, somehow, even harder. I couldn’t relax and got all fake-smiley and those things started repeating in my head: you’re being silly, isn’t a photo of yourself everyday a sort of diva-ish thing to do?, who will want to see all those wrinkles anyway? Etc, etc, etc.
So I gave up on the picture thing.
Which is a little bit discouraging to me because I really, really believe that we moms need to be in the picture more often. Even with our ________________ (wrinkles, chubbiness, grey hair, unplucked eyebrows). I believe this because I wish I had more pictures of myself with my mom when I was a kid. And with my dad.(Remember this post?) I believe it because of how happy I am to have photos of my kids and me together, how they help me remember how blessed I am to be a mom to those four unique people. And I believe it because I know that while "mother" is often an essential part of our self definition, it’s not the only part.
And really: it’s ok that the black-clothes-photo thing didn’t work out. (Even though I still have the wish to document my silly little clothing collection.) Because even though I feel silly asking, and even though those things start repeating in my head (silly, selfish, weird), I still know that photographic proof of myself is important. It helps me remember things better and makes me feel more involved. And sure: not everyone gets it. Just because I’m thinking "how can I photograph this?" in almost every situation I find myself in doesn’t mean that the whole world thinks like that, so a spontaneous photograph-of-Amy isn’t likely to happen all that often. I’ll always have to ask. Despite the awkwardness, though, it is worth it. If I hadn’t asked, for example, Kendell to take my picture during a recent hike, I wouldn’t have this photograph
of me doing one of my most favorite thing in the world. Sure, I would still remember that day on that mountain, but having an image to return to—seeing myself in that setting, with the sky so low you can almost touch it and the darkness in the clouds hinting at rain, those peaks and trees—all of that sheer visualness of the image combines with memory to make the memories stronger.
How do you get yourself in the frame?